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This is literally a wonderful book. The wonder is that of a boy, Noah Marlin, growing up along the Chester River near the Chesapeake Bay. Inevitably there is something of Twain and Tarkington in his pranks, hooky-playing, and fishing. But other qualities distinctly Gilbert Byron's make the novel more than a nostalgic re-creation of an American childhood. This isn't childhood we're reading about, it's life.